Sunday, March 24, 2013

becoming a spiritual warrior

Verse 2.36: Your enemies will describe you in many unkind words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful for you?

Pain is a type of suffering, distress. It comes in different forms whether it be physical, mental or emotional. That, everyone will agree with. What most people would concur with is the fact that pain should be avoided at all costs.

However, what's interesting is where people differ in their attitude towards pain. For example, if we polled a group of individuals, it would become clear that people differ in their perception of pain. One man's pain can easily be another one's pleasure. Along with perception, people also tend to have various thresholds of pain. For example, some may be able to tolerate high doses of physical pain but may fall to pieces when exposed to a hint of emotional pain.

Here, we are introduced more deeply to how pain can be perceived depending on the individual. Specifically, Krsna here is pointing out for that person who is a warrior/leader/protector, such as Arjuna, the greatest pain for such a person is derision. It's not insult to the body that such a person feels afflicted by but insult to one's character and example.

I found this to be an interesting point which led me to recognize something I witness everyday but don't necessarily do anything about - it is so easy to hurt each other. Often we forget that pain is not limited solely to the physical, which more often than not, heals faster and more easily than the emotional scars and traumas that we cause by our careless words and actions.

One great bhakti practitioner coined a beautiful phrase which I'd like to share with you today. He said that we should aspire to become "spiritual warriors". Instead of arming ourselves with insults, derogatory remarks and flippant sarcasm, instead we arm ourselves with compassion, well-wishes and words of encouragement for one another.

There is a lot of pain out in the world today. The question that needs to be posed is, "Who out there wants to help heal it?" It's too easy to point the finger at one another and say "You caused it!" That just keeps the cycle going. Instead, we need to first desire to become spiritual warriors. Those warriors that, as the great bhakti text Srimad Bhagavatam describe, aspire to the ideal of "The lovers of the Lord are so forbearing that even though they are defamed, cheated, cursed, disturbed, neglected or even killed, they are never inclined to avenge themselves."

That's a pretty high ideal. In fact, for most of us, it may seem impossible! However, it's important to have an ideal or a goal to strive towards. Whether we only imbibe one percent of that statement or ninety, the fact is we become all the better for attempting to become such empowered individuals. Why not aim for the moon? After all, even if we fall, we'll land amongst the stars!

With respect to becoming a spiritual warrior, it's important to recognize and remember the saying, "Physician, heal thyself." For most of us, we first need to recognize the scars and hurt that we've experienced and let go of it. It's hard to help others when we ourselves are suffering. However, it doesn't mean that it's impossible. Such is the beauty of bhakti. Bhakti not only helps the process of self-healing but also helps one to recognize and help others simultaneously.

In a world that's becoming more and more impersonal by the day, this is an invitation to become more personal and more loving. Are you in?

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